There have been a number of classic games bundled as one game on numerous next gen consoles but none have the content that this package contains. There are over 60 classic Activision Atari games all in this one little cart. Retro gamers will really enjoy this title.
Before NES, there was Atari. Most gamers today have their roots growing deep within the age of Atari. This game pak will please every fan of classic Activision games. Not only does this game feature the best Activision games, but also several Home Brew games. Even the interface is retro. The player selects which game to play by rotating a rack of games while original retro music plays in the background. Before each game starts up, the player has the option to see the box art and read the instructions for each game. Because of the GBA’s widescreen, the box art can be seen in parts through a scrolling screen. The instruction pages are very simple with black text with white backgrounds. I would have liked to see a little bit more color in these text exclusive pages but then again, it serves its purpose well without the use of extra color.
Players can choose to play any one the of the sixty plus games. Here is a list of the Atari 2600’s games:
Barnstorming Boxing Checkers Chopper Command Cosmic Commuter Crackpots Dolphin Dragster Enduro Fishing Derby Freeway Frostbite Grand Prix H.E.R.O. Ice Hockey Kaboom! Keystone Kapers Laser Blast Megamania Oink! Pitfall! Plaque Attack Pressure Cooker Private Eye River Raid River Raid 2 Seaquest Skiing Sky Jinks Spider Fighter Stampede Starmaster Tennis Title Match Baseball Beamrider Bloody Human Freeway Bridge Decathlon Pitfall 2 Robot Tank Skateboardin’ Space Shuttle Tomcat F14 Venetian Blinds Kabobber Thwocker
Plus, there are a few Home Brew and prototype games to play.
The games play, look, and sound just like you were playing them on your 2600. This is due to the fact that the games are being played off an emulator. Coding an emulator is easier to work with instead of porting over every game to fit the GBA’s standard programming. For the most part, the games and menu system are easily used. In the menu select screen, the “A” button confirms and “B” cancels. However, just like for Atari 2600, before you start playing, you can adjust options. The “L” button in conjunction with the D-pad work together to change the game’s options and settings. While this isn’t the easiest way to change settings, it still works. “L” and Up change the mode or play (one player, two player, etc?) while “L” and down changes the color mode to black and white. Left and Right with the Left Shoulder button changes the difficulty level. This may be confusing at first, but after you learn how the game operates, it will become easy to navigate.
The biggest part of this game is whether or not the games play as they once did. The emulator that is used in this game is about as perfect as you can get. Even though Atari was basically the first system created, it is one of the hardest to create an emulator for. Porting over NES games on GBA is practically nothing as compared to Atari. The programmers did a fantastic job of recreating every aspect of the classic gameplay. Screen sizes and resolutions had to be tinkered with, the frame rate had to be adjusted, and the sound had to be compatible for the GBA but they all fall together neatly in place on the Nintendo’s handheld system. There only seems be a small case of dropped frames in the game Barnstorming. Only the biggest fans will notice a slight slow down but other gamers will not be able to tell.
Many Atari 2600 games had the ability for multiplayer game play. Luckily, the developers implemented a single pak link function, but it is somewhat awkward. Because this game is running off an emulator, only a small program is sent to the idle GBA. This small program only records the button presses on the second GBA and transfers them over to the first. This means that player 2’s GBA will not have anything on his GBA screen. The two players must use the first GBA as the screen for the game. Sharing a GBA screen might feel a little cramped but this multiplayer is better than no multiplayer at all. Sending over the entire emulator and a game would have made gameplay slow to a crawl. The GBA only has 256k of system RAM and the emulator is probably bigger that this file size. The GBA doesn’t have that kind of bandwidth, but looking on another GBA screen isn’t the worst thing in the world because players will probably be too caught up in the fun. GameBoy Player owners should take full advantage of this because both players can look off a bigger television screen.
Getting the high score is the objective for pretty much every Atari game. The developers included a RAM save on this cart to save all the high scores. This is a big plus for this title. If you are skilled enough to get a really high score in some games, you can unlock extra bonuses. I find games like Kaboom to be more difficult than I remember because this game used the Atari paddle for its controller. Turning a dial is a lot easier than using the GBA’s D-pad. The direction pad just seems a bit too touchy. Besides the games that originally used the paddle, the rest of the games work surprising well with the GBA’s button configuration.
If you want to play portable Atari games, this is the package for you. All games run and play near perfection while all high scores can be saved. Unlocking extras and the single pak multiplayer mode will keep gamers coming back for more, even if it is slightly awkward. This is the perfect game to pop in your GBA whenever you have a few minutes and you’ll keep coming back to it for years to come. This is probably the best retro game pak that I’ve seen in a long time. I wish the “L” button config style was a little easier to use, but the player will become attuned to it in time. If gamers have never experienced what the first video games were like, then this package can teach them everything they want to know. Now go get the high score on Pitfall, River Raid, Hero, and Frost Bite while destroying your friends in Fishing Derby, Boxing, and Ice Hockey.